Reverie at Bennys Place

The Problems of the President

Cover art for Woman's World Chicago, December 2012 by James Montgomery Flagg

Cover art for Woman’s World Chicago, December 2012 by James Montgomery Flagg

I love to read vintage magazines and am particularly enthralled by publications from the early 20th century. During one of my quests to obtain a copy of any magazine from May or June 1912 – to read historical accounts of the sinking of the Titanic – I ended up bidding and subsequently won a copy of the December 1912 Woman’s World Chicago. I purchased this magazine based on the cover art alone – a beautiful woman drawn by James Montgomery Flagg. You may be familiar with Flagg’s most famous work – the infamous United States Army poster depicting Uncle Sam pointing with the caption “I Want YOU for U.S. Army”

Though the magazine was published over one hundred years ago, I am amused by the parallels between life then and life now. There are advertisements promising a cure for this or that, a phonograph and of course food. There were also many advertisements for furs. Thankfully today the desire to wear fur is not as prevalent.

The new Edison Phonograph circa 1912

Edison Phonograph

I remembered there was an editorial by Herbert Kaufman that spoke of the newly elected president – Democrat Woodrow Wilson. It is striking that the words printed in 1912 could, for the most part, hold relevance today. I would like to share with you the editorial in full because I love the overall message of coming together as a whole. I am typing out the original article from the magazine as I don’t think there would be any copy-write infringement based on the age of the magazine. As I type, I am envisioning Herbert doing the same on an old typewriter over 100 years ago.


The United States presidential election of 1912 was fought among three major candidates. Incumbent President William Howard Taft was renominated by the Republican Party with the support of the conservative wing of the party. After former President Theodore Roosevelt failed to receive the Republican nomination, he called his own convention and created the Progressive Party (nicknamed the “Bull Moose Party”). It nominated Roosevelt and ran candidates for other offices in major states. Democrat Woodrow Wilson was nominated on the 46th ballot of a contentious convention, thanks to the support of William Jennings Bryan, the three-time Democratic presidential candidate who still had a large and loyal following in 1912.
Wilson defeated both Taft and Roosevelt in the general election, winning a huge majority in the Electoral College, and won 42% of the popular vote while his nearest rival won 27%. Wilson became the only elected President of the Democratic Party between 1892 and 1932. Wilson was the second of only two Democrats to be elected President between 1860 and 1932. This was also the last election in which a candidate who was not a Republican or Democrat came second in either the popular vote or the Electoral College and the first election where the 48 states of the continental United States participated.
Source: Wikipedia

The Problems of the President

an editorial by Herbert Kaufman

Presidential candidates of 1912

Presidential candidates of 1912

The choice is made. Now let party strife and factional dissent be still. The majority have signified their will. The people’s judgment is made. Whatever our personal preferences, let us remember the allegiance due the Republic’s ruler and as a solid union, work for the common cause.

It is far more important that we shall be good Americans than good Democrats, Republicans or Progressives. The whole is greater than its parties; national weal more important than political creed.

Mighty problems face the future President. Great questions await his decision. A long year of bitter strife has disclosed the need of thorough reforms in every branch of government.

We are rapidly outgrowing our old legislation. The developments of the Twentieth Century have introduced hundreds of new equations, which must be weighed patiently and judged with deliberation. Precedent will afford him little help. The America which he must understand has little in common with the old continent over which Jefferson and Monroe and Lincoln presided.

The character of the people has decisively altered. New strains are leaping in our blood. The Anglo-Saxon, Celtic, and German have lost their preponderance. The Latin and Greek, the Oriental and Slav are strongly manifest in the commonwealth.

“North” and “south” and “east” and “west” are mere terms of direction. Sectional individualities are waning. The telephone, the fast train, the Associated Press, the all-American periodical, are adjusting points-of-view to common bases.

Industry is in process of revolution. Higher standards of education have altered the attitude of the great masses. This is an Age of Thought. Men whose fathers labored with their hands are driving their tasks with brain-throbs.

A spirit of riotous extravagance is tangling our economics; we are over-sped, over-fed. Wages are more liberal than ever before in the history of man; but the cost of food and clothes, rates of rent and values of land have risen even higher.

Irreverence menaces tomorrow. Standards of morality are low. Manhood and virtue are on the auction block. The standing room sign is on the playhouse and the church pew is empty. Vice snaps its finger in the face of Decency. The guardians of the law are allied with crime – the shepherd dog has turned sheep-killer.

Procurers, drug-moonshiners and thugs are strongly organized. Anarchy is ranting on the street corners and a wave of socialism is steadily sweeping from Coast to Coast.

The ridiculous results of Supreme Court decisions have aroused a sullen resentment against the Judiciary. The Sherman law, upon which long deferred hope of trust control was nurtured, has disclosed absolute futility.

The women are fighting for suffrage and gaining headway in every quarter. The “hand that rocked the cradle” is gathering rocks for assault upon child labor, the infamous sweat-shop and protected prostitution.

International complications loom over the Panama Canal. Ugly situations have developed in Mexico and Nicaragua. Europe is seething with hatreds. The war bugles are ringing along the Bosphorus. England and Germany and Russia are licking their mouths at the thought of China’s inefficiency.

This is no hour for political spites. Grave issues are upon us – issues which must be met by a people united in will and deed, stirred with patriotic resolve. Opposed by hostile factions, failure threatens the next administration.

It is we, the people of the United States, upon whom the real responsibility of the next four years rests.

Let us be patient, generous and fair. Little can be expected at the outset. Give the President time to adjust himself and the benefit of the doubt in every crisis. There are always two sides at Washington, and the man on the outside is usually wrong.

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5 thoughts on “The Problems of the President

  1. Frank Montellano

    Ah, the beginning of the Progressive Era, which ended with their greatest failure, Prohibition, after so many advances in the name of a better world for everyone. Reminds me of the comparisons that can be drawn between Reagan and Trump. Scary that things happen in cycles. If only we knew enough history to see what is coming…

  2. Libby

    Wow, Ben so interning that you came across this and how the words are so relevant today. I guess everything changes and nothing changes eh? Nice work.

  3. Benny Post author

    Hi there Frank!

    Thank you so much for reading. I appreciate it a lot. 🙂 I think the cycles can be traced back to the dawn of civilization. For being such an incredibly intelligent species, we do have some serious shortcomings when it comes to progressing and not repeating the same mistakes over and over.

  4. Benny Post author

    Hi there Libby!

    🙂 We are making some strides which is a blessing but yes, I mentioned in my reply to Frank, we do continue to make our same mistakes over and over. I am ever the optimist though that one day we’ll figure it out. I guess if we don’t, things will get figured out for us (again).

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